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Hailed recently by the Daily Telegraph as ‘a voice of real distinction’, Nicky Spence is fast emerging as one of ‘our finest young singers’. An artist of great integrity, Nicky’s unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty in his musicianship are steadfastly earning him a place at the top of the profession. Highlights for this season include David Die Meistersingers Von Nürnberg at the ENO with music director Ed Gardner, a Rossini double at Welsh National Opera as Rodolphe Guillaume Tell and Mambre Mosè in Egitto with Maestro Carlo Rizzi, and Francesco Benvenuto Cellini at De Nederlandse Opera under Sir Mark Elder. Concerts include recitals with Roger Vignoles, Malcolm Martineau and The Allegri Quartet and performances of Handel with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, a World Premiere by Jonathan Dove with the Oxford Bach Choir, and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand. Nicky will also perform appear in concert at the Barbican, the Purcell Room, and Birmingham Symphony Hall. On stage, Nicky created the role of Brian in The World Premiere of Nico Muhly's opera Two Boys at the

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Hailed recently by the Daily Telegraph as ‘a voice of real distinction’, Nicky Spence is fast emerging as one of ‘our finest young singers’. An artist of great integrity, Nicky’s unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty in his musicianship are steadfastly earning him a place at the top of the profession.
Highlights for this season include David Die Meistersingers Von Nürnberg at the ENO with music director Ed Gardner, a Rossini double at Welsh National Opera as Rodolphe Guillaume Tell and Mambre Mosè in Egitto with Maestro Carlo Rizzi, and Francesco Benvenuto Cellini at De Nederlandse Opera under Sir Mark Elder. Concerts include recitals with Roger Vignoles, Malcolm Martineau and The Allegri Quartet and performances of Handel with Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, a World Premiere by Jonathan Dove with the Oxford Bach Choir, and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with the Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand. Nicky will also perform appear in concert at the Barbican, the Purcell Room, and Birmingham Symphony Hall.


On stage, Nicky created the role of Brian in The World Premiere of Nico Muhly's opera Two Boys at the ENO, a role he reprised for his Metropolitan Opera debut last season. His other recent roles include Števa Jenůfa at La Monnaie, Brussels, Steuermann Die Fliegender Holländer in concert with the CBSO under Andris Nelsons and at Scottish Opera, Isacco La Gazza Ladra for Frankfurt Opera, Iago Otello (Rossini) for Buxton Festival, and Don Ottavio Don Giovanni for New Zealand Opera. Other roles include Novice Billy Budd (dir. David Alden), Francesco Benvenuto Cellini (dir. Terry Gilliam) for the ENO, Chevalier de la Force Les Dialogues des Carmélites for Grange Park Opera (dir. John Doyle), Tamino Die Zauberflöte (dir. Sir Thomas Allen), Baron Lummer Intermezzo for Scottish Opera, MacHeath The Beggar’s Opera, Quint The Turn of the Screw; Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress and Jaquino Fidelio at Opera Holland Park.


Recent concert performances include an appearance at the BBC Proms, Act I of Tristan und Isolde with the BBC Scottish Symphony under Donald Runnicles, and Beethoven Symphony No.9 at the Barbican with the Philharmonia. Other concerts include Finzi's Dies Natalis with the BBCCO, Elgar's The Kingdom at Kings College, Cambridge, Mozart C Minor Mass at Cadogan Hall, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with L’Orchestre National d’Ile de France under Gordan Nikolic and at the Wigmore Hall with Chamber Domaine. Nicky made his New York Recital debut with Malcolm Martineau this last season which also featured a live broadcast of Brahms Liebesliederwalzer at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, a Britten Song-Cycle Series in Aldeburgh, a recital series at Kings Place as part of their Britten 100 celebrations, and appearances at the Oxford Lieder Festival, St. John’s Smith Square, Spitalfields festival with the Songsmiths and the Purcell Room.


Earlier this year, Nicky released his debut solo recital disc with Malcolm Martineau entitled As you like it: Shakespeare Songs, which brought him universally great acclaim. An experienced recording artist, Nicky attracted a long-term recording contract with Universal Classics at a young age and has increasing recognition on stage, radio and television as a presenter and performer alike, having contributed to tours and Platinum Selling disks the world over. In latter years, he has enjoyed successful collaborations on record with Graham Johnson (Schumann: The Complete Songs Vol. 10 / Hyperion), Britten Songs with Malcolm Martineau (Onyx), Messiaen’s La Mort du Nombre with Sholto Kynoch (Stone Records) and a disc of premiere Hoddinott recordings. Adding to his credentials in contemporary repertoire, his recent world-premiere recording of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s song cycle A Constant Obsession, for Resonus Classics, received uniformly excellent reviews.


Future recording plans include a solo recital disc of French Repertoire with Malcolm Martineau for Chandos Records, a CD of Eichendorff settings by Wolf as part of the Oxford Lieder Live series, and a disc of première Jonathan Dove Song-Cycles for Naxos.
Nicky trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio. He took his place as an inaugural Harewood Artist at the ENO in 2011 which is made possible by the American Friends of the ENO. 

November 2014

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Reviews

"Spence’s voice is naturally thrilling, radiant and luminescent in just about every second of this programme, crossing stylistic boundaries with the silvery ease of a born entertainer…"

***** CD Review 'As You Like It...' - The Scotsman

"Star of the evening had to be Nicky Spence, who sang confidently and I hope with promise of more Rossini roles. Here was a tenor matching Bruce Ford in this repertoire, and it would be good to hear him in more serious Rossini in due course. "

Opera Britannia - Rossini: Otello / Buxton Festival

"Elan, intelligence and passionate engagement: Scottish tenor Nicky Spence brings it all to his exemplary performance of Out of Winter, the opening cycle on this disc of songs by Jonathan Dove. Spence's enunciation of the text (by the late Robert Tear, in response to Britten's Winter Words) has crystal clarity, while his singing runs the full gamut from the aching lyricism of Song I to the elated peroration of Song VI's conclusion."

BBC Magazine - Dove: All You Who Sleep Tonight

"Roger Quilter’s Three Shakespeare Songs, rich and genuine, were wonderfully delivered, and then came the jewel of the afternoon, Shakespeare settings by John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Spence and Lepper moved into torch-song mood, Spence’s fabulous body-language (not least his eyes and smile) conveying every nudge of this treasurable music"

Christopher Morley, The BIrmingham Post

"Nicky Spence, also a tenor, aptly stresses superficiality as the callow Steva…"

Jenůfa - George Loomis, The New York Times

"Nicky Spence rose to the challenge of ringing every possible drop of emotion from the score ... [He] sang with grace and aplomb."

Britten's War Requiem - Christie Franke, Bachtrack

"Tenor Nicky Spence was in ringing voice as Blanche’s brother, the Chevalier de la Force; every word registered and he clearly conveyed his dilemma when visiting Blanche to persuade her to escape. "

Dialogues des Carmélites - Opera Britannia

"[…] Nicky Spence’s Steersman made up the expert cast. Spence’s rumbustious yet delicate ceilidh display, with his troosers slipping down, could go viral if someone puts it on YouTube."

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian

"Tenor Nicky Spence found it difficult not to steal the show from his fellow performers [...]. His charisma and trademark twinkle on Kurt Weill's Lonely House, from Street Scene, produced whooping and gruff chants of "Brilliant, son!" from the crowd."

Marianne Gunn, Scottish Opera

"And the tenor Nicky Spence changed my conception of the Novice. [...] With his husky frame and penetrating voice, Mr. Spence was a different kind of victim: an overgrown weakling who will do anything to avoid pain and punishment. "

Billy Budd, ENO - Anthony TommasiniI, The New York Times

"Spence [...] broadly overcomes the awkwardness of adults playing children on the stage – and does it with arrestingly bright, bell-like resonance [...] Spence is turning out to be a voice of real distinction (ENO, Two Boys)"

Michael White, The Telegraph

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Discography